Art Bell

Arthur "Art" Bell, III (born June 17, 1945) founded the paranormal-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM, and currently hosts the weekend edition of the show. He is also the owner of radio station KNYE 95.1 FM in Pahrump, Nevada.


Early Years

Bell was born to Arthur Bell, Jr., a Marine Colonel, and Jane Bell, a Marine Drill Instructor. He was always interested in radio and at the age of 13 he became a licensed amateur radio operator. Bell served in U.S. Air Force as a medic, and in his free time operated a pirate radio station on his base. He would go out of his way to play antiwar music that was not being played on the American Forces Network such as "Eve of Destruction" and "Fortunate Son".

After leaving military service he stayed in the Far East, residing on the Japanese island of Okinawa where he worked as a disc jockey for KSBK, the only non-military English-language station in Asia. While in Japan he set a Guinness record for staying on the air 116 hours and 15 minutes. He also set the world record for seesawing while broadcasting for 57 hours.

He returned to the United States and studied engineering at the University of Maryland. He dropped out and went back to radio, this time as a board operator and chief engineer. Being around the stations he got a few opportunities to be on the air. For several years he worked back and forth behind and in front of the microphone. After a period of working in cable television, in 1989 the 50,000-watt KDWN in Las Vegas, Nevada offered Bell a five-hour time slot in the middle of the night.


Bell's original program in Las Vegas was a political call-in talk radio show, but he tired of the format, believing there were too many such programs, especially in the wake of Rush Limbaugh's massive success.

Bell abandoned political talk and began highlighting his long interest in UFOs, time travel and other oddities, gaining a large following after it was syndicated in the early 1990s. At his peak popularity, Bell's program was syndicated on over 500 radio stations, and claimed 15 million listeners nightly. [1] ( Bell broadcasts from his home in Pahrump, Nevada.

Bell's guests' topics often deal with the paranormal, occult knowledge, conspiracy theories, UFOs, protoscience and pseudo-science. Some critics see Bell as a kook, and some guests have been criticized as cranks or quacks; Coast-to-Coast is subject to frequent ridicule and criticism on the usenet group, and in certain AOL chatrooms.

Others regard Bell as a master showman, noting that he calls his show "absolute entertainment" [2] (, and further noting his statements that he does not necessarily accept every guest or caller's claims, but only offers a forum where they will not be ridiculed. Bell is one of few talk show hosts who does not screen calls. His calm attitude, patient questions and ability to tease substance from the sometimes nebulous statements of callers and guests gave his show a relaxed and serious atmosphere earning him much praise from those who contend the paranormal deserved a mature outlet of disccusion in the media. Ed Dames, Richard C. Hoagland and Terence McKenna were regular guests who typically discussed "fringe" topics.

Bell's interests, however, extend beyond the paranormal, interviewing singers Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, comedian George Carlin, writer Dean Koontz, and frequent guest physicist Michio Kaku.

There are two annual features on Bell's program: On Halloween, his show is renamed "Ghost to Ghost A.M.", and is devoted to callers relating their allegedly real-life encounters with ghosts. Every New Year's Eve, Bell invites callers to make a prediction for the coming year; the predictions are then reviewed at the close of the next year.

Beginning in late 1996, Bell was criticized for reporting rumors that comet Hale-Bopp was being closely followed by an Unidentified Flying Object. It was speculated that members of the Heaven's Gate group committed mass suicide based on rumors Bell aired, but others discounted this, noting that the Heaven's Gate website stated that "Whether Hale-Bopp has a 'companion' or not is irrelevant from our perspective."[3] (

Retirements and comebacks

Bell has retired and returned to Coast to Coast several times. His first retirement, which he announced unexpectedly on October 13, 1998, was due to unspecified threats made against his family. He returned after about two weeks. [4] (

In April, 2000, Bell again retired, but offered no details other than stating he intended to "resolve a family crisis"; Mike Siegel took over the program. Bell returned in February of 2001, saying he had left to deal with the aftermath of his son's rape, but was now confident the issue was resolved. Bell also stated that since Seigel had taken over Coast to Coast the program had gone in a "different direction" that Bell apparently did not approve of. As Coast to Coast's creator, Bell retained some authority over the program, and thus felt his return was necessary.

Bell last retired in late 2002, citing recurring back pain, and was replaced by George Noory. Bell again returned in September, 2003, to part-time duty on weekends.

Philippine allegations

A hoax e-mail recounting Bell's allegedly racist statements, calling the Philippines "a disgusting and filthy place" on-air, has been circulating online since the 1990s. Bell has repeatedly denied making such a statement, furthermore noting that his wife Ramona is partly of Philippine heritage.

In 2001, Bell sued the Philippine Daily Inquirer after the newspaper published the e-mail as fact; the Inquirer published a retraction and apologized to Bell.

September 11, 1997

On September 11, 1997, Bell opened a special line for callers who claimed to have been employed at the United States Air Force operating facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, also known as Area 51. (Bell had done such themed shows occasionally, seeking calls from purported time travelers or from the antichrist.)

One caller, an apparently distressed male, said he had been an Area 51 worker, but had been released for "medical" reasons, and was being pursued by unnamed persons. He reported that plans were underway for wide scale destruction, by sinister forces who "want those major population centers wiped out." [5] ( The caller was interrupted, and Bell's program went off air. There was a brief period of dead air before Bell's network rebroadcast a portion of a previous interview with Mark Fuhrman for about 30 minutes until the technical problems were resolved.

When Bell came back on the air, he reported that the caller had screamed in what Bell took to be genuine terror or fright, before the line was disconnected. This scream was not broadcast to listeners, as it apparently occurred after the disconnect.

The interruption of Bell's program gained some mainstream attention, and some concluded it was a publicity stunt, especially since that evening a writer for Penthouse magazine was in Bell's home studio, interviewing the broadcaster.

However, some have argued there were puzzling aspects to the incident, saying a problem with a communications satellite was the source of Bell's temporary outage. An unsourced account of the event was reported that "(according to GE engineers) the satellite's 'Earth sensor lost lock' and the craft rolled into an attitude where it no longer pointed at the uplinks, causing 50 channels to go off-air for about 30 minutes," and that Bell's program was not the only one affected by the purported satellite problem. [6] (

One caller claiming to live near Area 51 is documented as saying damage to his home was similar to that caused by an electromagnetic pulse at about the time Bell's broadcast stopped, and a man who claimed to work as an engineer for Hughes Aerospace in Tucson, Arizona reported a similar effect.

Several weeks later, a man claiming to be "the Area 51 caller" called into the Art Bell show to state that the call had been a hoax.

Rock band Tool incorporated portions of the distraught Area 51 caller's voice on their album Lateralus.


Art has written, or co-written, several books over time. They include, but may not be limited to, The Quickening: Today's Trends, Tomorrow's World, The Art of Talk (an autobiography), The Source, The Edge: Man's Mysterious Past & Incredible Future, and The Coming Global Superstorm.

See also

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